Parenting expert L.R. Knost wrote, “It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”

I used to embrace this idea wholeheartedly. However, after learning about her experience with cancer, I’m unsure.

As a child development instructor, I enjoy integrating Knost’s insights into my teaching material and reading up on her latest work. Which is why I was surprised when her social media posts shifted from heartwarming parenting gems to this:

• “Still no chemo. Insurance is claiming I don’t have coverage for cancer treatments even though the coverage is clearly stated in my policy…”

• “Insurance is now admitting that I have coverage for chemo but arguing with my oncologist about whether it’s ‘medically necessary’ since this cancer is considered incurable. Crazy to pay for insurance for decades and then when you need it they can just decide you aren’t worth the trouble…”

• “My insurance company finally agreed to cover my chemo. BUT they refused to approve the pre-meds I HAVE to have before chemo….as long as our laws continue to be skewed in favor of corporations instead of the people they are supposed to serve and the workers whose labor keeps them in business, profits will always prevail over people.”

The person who I usually turn to for reassurance is now the one seeking it. Because of a broken system. If current medical trends continue, my kids indeed will be faced with a cruel and heartless world.

Will my children be tough enough to lose their life savings if they get cancer, like 42% of new cancer patients in the United States? Are they equipped to live in a country that spends more on health care than any other country in the world with worse outcomes? If my children get diabetes, are they prepared to pay $1,300 a month for supplies? Perhaps they can be tough enough to ration their insulin in hopes their fate is not the same as Alec Smith-Holt, an uninsured 26-year-old who died from diabetic ketoacidosis after such rationing.

It’s plausible my children can turn to crowdsourcing for help. As the economist Sara Collins said, “We find that underinsured people are nearly as likely to report problems paying their medical bills as people who don’t have any insurance … So it shouldn’t be surprising that people are raising funds through crowdsourcing.” One patient in need of a heart transplant was told by the committee she was not a candidate, and suggested a “fundraising effort of $10,000.”

With more and more people relying on GoFundMe to pay for health care, I hope my children are tough enough to decide which person asking for money deserves to live and who doesn’t. Should my children contribute to the neighbor who discovered a brain tumor or the local hate crime victim?

If Knost is correct in saying it isn’t my job to toughen up my children for a cruel and heartless world, perhaps it’s time for Congress to do its job in taking care of their constituents. This means listening to the voice of the people rather than money. In 2018, the insurance industry gave nearly $50 million in campaign contributions to Democrats and Republicans, and the pharmaceutical industry contributing over $28 million. We know money influences votes.

Congress has got to work together to prioritize people over party. No proposed health care plan is perfect, but many would be better than the current system. Congress must prioritize the lives of their constituents above the lining of their pockets.

Veronika Tait

Veronika Tait, Saratoga Springs, is a mother of two who earned her Ph.D. in social psychology at Brigham Young University and currently teaches psychology courses at two universities in Utah. When she’s not writing articles at veronikatait.com, she’s reading psychology books, researching decision making, conducting Story Time at her local library, or volunteering with political groups.